Cranberry Pistachio Granola Bar Squares

Cranberry Pistachio Granola Bar Squares shot from above and cut into 16 equal pieces.
Photo: Lauren Pincus-Harris, MS, RDN

These Cranberry Pistachio Granola Bar Squares are a super easy way to enjoy a homemade, natural and healthy snack.  As a bonus, they are plant-based and gluten-free as long as you use certified gluten-free oats. These tasty squares contain heart-healthy fats and fiber from nutrient-dense whole foods, plus they are missing the unwanted ingredients you will find in most commercial granola bars.

I set out to create a favorite healthy snack recipe with crackle and crunch and, for me, it was time to break out the homemade granola bars. With few exceptions, I don’t care for store-bought varieties. For only 100 calories, these Cranberry Pistachio Granola Bar Squares are a satisfying lunchbox treat, after-school snack or mid-afternoon work pick-me-up.

They’re not just for snack time! I love crumbling one of these bars into a cup of Greek yogurt or over cottage cheese with fruit for a protein and fiber-filled breakfast. Or, top a square with your favorite better-for-you ice cream or frozen yogurt for dessert.

Once you have the base recipe, you can easily play around with it. One of the best things about these bars is their versatility. You can use any type of nuts; think almonds, walnuts, cashews or pecans. Almost any dried fruit works well, too, like cherries, dates, raisins or apricots … use your imagination. The level of sweetness can easily increase or decrease based on the amount of fruit, honey or other preferred sweeteners. Some of my vegan friends eat honey, some don’t. If you are a non-honey eating vegan, you can try to substitute maple syrup for a similar result.

To make these granola bars even more fun and kid-friendly, sprinkle a tablespoon of mini chocolate chips over the top and press them into the mixture before refrigerating.

Cranberry Pistachio Granola Bar Squares

Yields 16 squares

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (use certified gluten free if needed)
  • 14 cup pistachios, roughly chopped (30g or about 47 nuts)
  • 14 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup whole grain puffed rice cereal (unsweetened)
  • 14 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 14 cup creamy natural peanut butter or almond butter (no added sugar)
  • 14 cup raw honey
  • 12 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 14 teaspoon table salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8×8 or 9×9 square brownie pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. On a baking sheet (preferably with a rim) combine oats, pumpkin seeds and flaxseed.
  3. Bake for about 3 minutes, then add pistachios and continue baking for an additional 2-3 minutes. Watch closely, the nuts will burn if overcooked!
  4. Remove oat mixture from the oven and place in a large bowl.
  5. Add cranberries and puffed rice cereal, toss and set aside.
  6. In a small saucepan, combine peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt.
  7. Cook over medium low heat while stirring gently until bubbly, about 3 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and pour peanut butter mixture over oat mixture.
  9. Stir well with a large spoon or spatula until thoroughly combined.
  10. Transfer to the square pan and press with a spatula until mixture is flat and even.
  11. If desired, melt white or dark chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzle over the top.
  12. Refrigerate until cool and firm, approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Cut into 16 squares and store covered in the refrigerator.
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Lauren Harris-Pincus
Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, is a nutrition communications specialist, author, speaker, spokesperson, corporate consultant and registered dietitian in private practice. She is the founder and owner of Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC where she specializes in weight management and prediabetes. She is also the author of “The Protein Packed Breakfast Club." Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.